So I'm a few days too late...it's the thought that counts, so I'm told.
Wednesday, 29 December 2010
So I'm a few days too late...it's the thought that counts, so I'm told.
Tuesday, 21 December 2010
Rating: 3.5 stars
Source: Library's eBook site
Published: by Penguin Books Limited in October 2010
I thought that, rather than writing what you already know (this is an autobiography of a comedian named Michael McIntyre), I would put in a funny clip that actually gives you a better idea about the kind of tone of the book and the person who wrote it...I'm not sure how well known Michael McIntyre is around the world (perhaps nowhere outside of the UK!) but anyway, enjoy!
***Sincere apologies if that doesn't work - I'm on my PC in my office and it doesn't have the right media player so I can't check...if it doesn't work, it will be rectified from my trusty laptop this evening!***
It is, as I hoped, really very entertaining! Laugh-out-loud type funny, which is, as you can imagine, not ideal for public transport. The tone was exactly like that of his stand-up and that was perfect.
Monday, 20 December 2010
I've wanted to read Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier for years and bought a copy ages ago with that very intention. Did I read it? No. It has languished on my shelves ever since. But no more!!
All you have to do is head over here and post a comment saying that you want to take part. Then, obviously, you read the book along with lots of other bloggy companions and gossip about it to your heart's content! These are the scheduled posts:
- 14-17 January - This post will focus on the first half of the book (approx. 190 pages or chapters 1-15)
- 28-31 January - This post will focus on the second half of the book (approx. 190 pages or chapters 16-27)
So if you fancy enjoying this classic with some like-minded folk, head over and sign up!
Thursday, 16 December 2010
To finally read 12 books from your "to be read" pile, within 12 months.
1. Each of these 12 books must have been on your bookshelf or "To Be Read" list for AT LEAST one full year. This means the book cannot have a publication date of 1/1/2010 or later (any book published in the year 2009 or earlier qualifies, as long as it has been on your TBR pile - I WILL be checking publication dates). Caveat: Two (2) alternates are allowed, just in case one or two of the books end up in the "can't get through" pile.
2. To be eligible, you must sign-up with Mr. Linky below - link to your list (so create it ahead of time!) and add updated links to each book's review. Every listed book must be completed and must be reviewed in order to count as completed.
3. Your list must be posted by Friday, December 31st, 2010.
There's more information over at the sign-up post here - to be honest, if you haven't checked out Roof Beam Reader already while blogging around, shame on you! The reviews are particularly interesting and penned by...wait for it...a MAN! So yeh, it's awesome, go there now! Why not sign up for the challenge while you're there?! :)
On to the list!!! The 12 books I plan on reading are:
- Arthur and George by Julian Barnes
- The Night Watch by Sarah Waters
- Loving Frank by Nancy Horan
- The Girl at Lion D'Or by Sebastian Faulks
- Possession by A.S.Byatt
- Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostotevsky
- Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
- To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
- The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
- A Changed Man by Francine Prose
- Random Acts of Heroic Love by Danny Scheinmann
- Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
And my two reserves (because some of those might beat me..we'll see..) are:
- Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
- Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra
On a festive aside, my boyfriend and I went to lovely York today to use our pre-Christmas leave to finish off our present buying - I snapped this little picture hastily on my phone (because it was snowing and my boyfriend said I was being embarassing!) and thought I'd share even if it isn't the best picture...aah, York is such a beautiful city in places - particularly while hugging a mug of mulled wine and buying presents!!! :)
Sunday, 12 December 2010
Wednesday, 8 December 2010
But my curiosity has gradually been piqued, particularly by bloggers who mention book clubs, read-alongs and other such bookish activities. So I finally signed up and thought I would give it a go!
Turns out, it's confusing! I have no idea how I'm supposed to find all these lovely activities, never mind get involved...so this is a humble plea to those more experienced than I in "tweeting"...any advice would be lovely :) And any recommendations of stuff I can join or get involved in on a book-type theme would be even lovelier!!
Friday, 3 December 2010
Wednesday, 1 December 2010
The Gourmet Cookie Book Gourmet Magazine
Cooking for Geeks Jeff Potter
Enchanted No More Robin D. Owens
Saturday, 27 November 2010
I've started seeing a lot of Christmas themed blogger challenges and, even scarier, a lot of 2011 challenges - I can see myself getting carried away with that before long!
The 101 Fantasy Challenge is hosted here on it's very own blog and is run by Michelle from over at The True Book Addict. When I joined up, the idea was to pick a number of books from the list of the top 101 fantasy books, as voted for by bloggers, to read before the end of this year. After some deliberation and input from those who'd joined up to the challenge, Michelle decided to make the challenge perpetual, i.e. read through the list at your own pace.
So if I read through the ones I own but have yet to read, I'm almost half way there :) I'll be keeping track of my progress on my Challenges pages, which you can get to by clicking up at the top.
Thursday, 25 November 2010
Anyway, I've swept through the amazingness that was Spy Glass - the last of the Glass trilogy by Maria V. Snyder, have craftily purchased my co-habiting laptop hog of a boyfriend a new distraction and shall be reviewing and raving about the final instalment later. I could, of course, have waited to post until that time but I felt guilty and it was distracting me at work (not that I'm not eternally focussed, you understand...) so this is like a "holding post".
Stick with me peeps, I WILL do better - in fact, consistent blogging may well be a New Year's Resolution!
Wednesday, 17 November 2010
Storm Glass: Untrained. Untested. Unleashed. With her unique magical abilities, Opal has always felt unsure of her place at Sitia's magic academy. But when the Stormdancer clan needs help, Opal's knowledge makes her the perfect choice - until the mission goes awry. Pulling her powers in unfamiliar directions, Opal finds herself tapping into a new kind of magic as stunningly potent as it is frightening. Now Opal must deal with plotters out to destroy the Stormdancer clan, as well as a traitor in their midst. With danger and deception rising around her, will Opal's untested abilities destroy her - or save them all?
I really enjoyed them so when I was offered a review copy of Spy Glass (the third in the Glass Trilogy) I was excited but couldn't bear to read it in isolation so I snatched up the first two and have finally got round to reading them, obviously back to back as is my usual unrestrained style.
Firstly, I definitely wouldn't say that to have to read the Study series before you read this but it does, I think, make the experience a lot more rounded and gives you much needed background on a lot of the characters, political intrigue, history and the magic. Although if you don't want to or don't have time, don't feel you have to - this series is fantastic in isolation too!
As before, I love the magic in this series - the whole world is coated with power from which some can draw. Those that can, are magicians. Opal Cowan is unique in that she can only draw power to glass - creating 'glass messengers' that magicians use to communicate with each other (think glass magic meets mobile phone technology...). Her abilities make her both revered among older magicians and an outcast among her peers. She struggles with being a one trick wonder and trying to find her place in the magical community.
Admittedly, at times, Opal can be a tad on the whiny side and it is a bit off-putting earlier on in the first novel but, I promise, she does get better. I love that she reacts to her experiences like a 'real person' - her relationships seem more realistic than those often found in fantasy novels aimed at younger readers as they are more complex. I've read criticism of the love triangle but I think it works and helps bring Opal to life more. The development of Opal throughout the books is fabulous and I find that the stories shift to reflect that.
Lastly, the dialogue in particular is perfect in this novel, if heavy on the sarcasm. There are moments when I've actually chuckled to myself and that kind of light relief is necessary when you have torture and murder lurking around! The stories get dark but are so involving that I was absolutely hooked.
Overall: This is sharper and snappier than the Study series and is greatly entertaining. There are some of what the film/TV industry call 'adult themes', as before, which make the series more gritty and exciting than the more commonplace fantasy offerings - I've yet to finish the series but I love the way its shaping up!
You can read another (less waffly) review of Storm Glass here over at e-Volving Books.
Saturday, 13 November 2010
I love my eReader (and so do my handbags), which is why I also love this awesome blog:
This week, she's started an amazing new feature entitled 'Blogger Spotlight' where she will be interviewing other bloggers who, like her, have a mega appreciation for the electronic word! It's a fantastic idea and her blog is packed full of articles, features, ereader help and reviews and you should definitely be heading over there....now...(or maybe when you've read to the end of this post!)
It is with no small amount of excitement that I can proudly say that this week the FIRST featured blogger is LIT ADDICTED BRIT!! Check out the interview here and share the love for all things 'e'!! If you fancy being a featured blogger, check out her blog and drop her an e-mail!
Friday, 5 November 2010
I loved the Book Blogger Hop question this week about how it feels to lose followers and whether or not we, as fellow bloggers, ever stop following another blog but can't commit to hopping because in England, it's Bonfire Night (yey!) so am bowing out. As it happens, I hate to lose followers but hope they blog off somewhere happy :) I do occasionally stop following blogs but only if I find that for at least a couple of months, I'm not giving their posts the attention they deserve. Often that's because I find meme reading a bit repetitive and the odd few do nothing but...I love blogging because of the originality of some bloggers and if I find I'm missing that, I'll eventually drift off.
I've always been a huge fan of Bonfire Night (or Guy Fawkes Night, if you prefer) - I love getting wrapped up in full winter garb with a hat, scarf, gloves and big coat; I love drinking over-priced hot drinks (usually mulled wine for me!) and eating bonfire toffee; most of all, I love 'ooh'-ing at pretty fireworks and getting too hot near the huge fire and then freezing on the way home! It's all so romantic and beautiful.
Which is weird considering its sinister origins I think...Guy Fawkes and his friends try to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605 but get caught. Mr Fawkes was later hanged along with some of his co-conspirators and, to celebrate (?!) the thwarting of the plot and aversion of disaster, we light fireworks and burn effigies of Guy Fawkes (or other historical figures...) on a huge bonfire because that's what people did to celebrate on 05 November 1605 (minus fireworks until circa 1650) - nice, huh?
Regardless of that, I love it and can't wait!!
Happy hopping those that are taking part and lovely Fridays to all those that aren't!
Thursday, 4 November 2010
Rating: 2.5 stars
Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewer program
Genre: Non-fiction - Language
Published: By Matador in 2010
What the blurb said:
A light-hearted exploration of the French language and culture and, in particular, words and phrases that could trip up the unwary linguist.
After reading this book of False Friends...you will be better able to avoid those awkward pitfalls and misunderstandings...An ideal companion for readers of French as well as travellers in France.
What I would say:
I was way more excited than I should admit when I saw this book on LibraryThing - when I was at college studying for a French A-Level (I don't know the American equivalent, sorry!), my teacher used to have us in stitches with stories of 'faux amis'. Literally translated, they are 'false friends', i.e. words that are spelt like English words but actually mean something completely different. Take, for example, une histoire - looks like 'history' but actually means, somewhat appropriately, 'a story'.Back then, my teacher's point was to stop us being lazy and assuming we could translate things without checking. Later, I learned it was necessary to avoid major restaurant embarrassment after I ordered 'steak tartare' expecting a steak and receiving a lovely pile of raw diced beef with a raw egg yolk on top - not appealing to a new-to-France 17 year old...
So that's the point of the book. I was looking forward to a better look at these common miscommunications and perhaps a couple of amusing scenarios to chuckle over. I was promised a "light-hearted exploration", after all! What I got was a book of lists of words. Yes, it's functional and is very helpful to someone at an intermediate level of French speaking with a love for words. But that's it: no anecdotes; no explanations. Just translations. It's great as that - my disappointment stems from what I expected and what I think the book could have been. And that's entirely my own fault, not the author's!
One high point was the section at the end on how to say some quintessentially English phrases in French, like "It's not my cup of tea" (Ca n'est pas ma chose favorite) and "a hoo-hah" (un brouhaha) - ok, so that's nerdy...but I liked it...
Overall: I really wouldn't recommend this to an absolute beginner but it is a handy tool for an intermediate French speaker. It's a very niche book and I can't see it appealing to a reader with just a passing interest in languages but it is great as a pocket-sized resource.
Tuesday, 2 November 2010
Source: Direct from author
Genre: YA/ Fantasy
Published: By Strategic Book Group in 2010
What the book's about:
Sixteen-year-old Ethan is a lonely and beaten-up teenager, living in a small village in Switzerland. He is disconnected from his parents, hates his life, and escapes in his hidden dream world – the old ruins. One day, he gets a mysterious invitation to join what seems to be an educational train built to create ‘new world leaders’. Ethan reluctantly accepts.
Pretty soon, Ethan discovers the wonders of the 500-year old train. The Delivery Room in particular, where all the knowledge of the world and of all the previous students-now-world-leaders is saved, opens Ethan’s eyes.
What I would say:
As a first, I've given this book two ratings. I realise this might seem bizarre because I've given it a rating for my appreciation of the book that is line with other books I have read and enjoyed recently. However, objectively, this book is aimed at someone slightly younger and I didn't want to give the impression that this book wouldn't be great for them or that I didn't enjoy it. Obviously this is where the old rating system is somewhat flawed because a reviewer could always say "It's a 1 from me but I'm sure other people might think it's a 5...". So I shall explain...
The premise of this story is not too dissimilar to Harry Potter in that Ethan is marginalised and lost before being taken to a magical education establishment and taken under the wing of a benevolent 500-year-old (and please don't crucify me for not knowing how old Dumbledore is!). While the comparison is an obvious one, the book is distinct enough that it doesn't feel like an imitation, just nicely reminiscent.
The good vs. evil theme is as prevalent as ever but what is rather unique for a book aimed at a teenage audience (I think...) about this book is that this time-old battle is waged within one character (Ethan) as he tries to decide whether to use his newly discovered powers for good or to succumb to the Dark Fire Inside. The Untouchables attempting to lead Ethan astray lend a much needed darkness to the book and break up the Malory-Towers-esque boarding school feel brilliantly. It was probably the bad guys that actually drove the story on so quickly and so well! One minor point was that Ethan himself could be a tad petulant but that will probably resonate perfectly with an angsty youth!
My favourite thing about the book was that, as with HP, the book implies that all this could be going on right under our very noses (or indeed above our very heads) and is perfectly lovely in all its magicality. The StudyTrain also takes credit for the successes of a host of historical figures, Martin Luther King Jr by way of example, and educates the 'chosen' in becoming such great political inspirations and leaders. I really enjoyed that aspect although I'm sure conspiracy theorists would have a field day!
The book is complete as an isolated novel but obviously leaves the way clear for one or more sequels. I would probably pick the sequels up since the book really didn't take very long to read but, as I said, I'd be more likely to buy them for an unsuspecting teenager and then force them to tell me all about it....vicarious reading is ok, right?
Overall: This is a light read that I would definitely recommend to a teenager (if I knew any well enough!) - it's fun and full of action and intrigue and great for a "light bite".
Thursday, 28 October 2010
My motivation for trying this again was that my book of choice at the time (prompted no doubt by a televised adaptation of its prequel) was World Without End by Ken Follett. I don't know if you've seen this nifty paperback but at over 1,200 pages it's a TOME. I'm loathed to buy an ebook copy simply because I already have a 'real' copy and it seems needlessly frivolous. Equally though, I can't face carrying this around in my handbag every day. SO, I thought, why not read World Without End when I'm at home and read an eBook on my commute?
Because, as per my last forray into this, I read 20 pages of WWE and then started The Study Train..(check out my 'Currently Reading' on the right) on my journey the next morning and promptly got so engrossed in it that it became my 'home read' too. WWE is still next to my bed but it's again waiting patiently in line while I finish off The Study Train...ah well, at least I tried (again)!
Perhaps I should just man up and carry WWE around for a while...
Saturday, 23 October 2010
Friday, 22 October 2010
Tuesday, 19 October 2010
"After the death of......., Raven finds himself...."
Friday, 15 October 2010
Source: 'Borrowed' from a friend
Published: by Piatkus Books in September 2010
What the blurb said:
Monday, 11 October 2010
Sister by Rosamund Lupton
This is a mystery-with-a-twist type book where Beatrice Hemming tells the story of her sister's murder...to her sister in the form of a letter. It's my current read and it's hard-going in places, not least because I'm a big sister myself and the story is one huge torrent of raw emotion, but I'm finding it oddly compelling!
Also *rescued* were: The Night Watch by Sarah Waters and The Other Side of You by Salley Vickers.
A moment of weakness in Waterstone's...
...saw me greedily grab up The Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger - so I now have books 1, 2 and 3, or to give them their names Soulless, Changeless and Blameless which I am *tremendously* excited about!
I also bought a beautiful new cookbook of homely deliciousness in the form of Kitchen by Nigella Lawson. I'm not sure if she's as popular in the US but I love her and wish I could emulate her domestic goddessness - at least I'm one step closer now!
From the charity shop
Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie which was recommended to me by Dad and has otherwise been touted as brilliant. One quote about it which I loved was this one:
"Has such a sad story ever been told so beautifully?"
So this is marked up as a mega find for me!!
So what was in your mailbox this week?!
Saturday, 9 October 2010
Rating: 4.5 stars
Source: Waterstone's website
Genre: Literary fiction
Published: by Bloomsbury Publishing in August 2010
What the blurb said:
Lou Bertignac has an IQ of 160 and a good friend in class rebel Lucas. At home her father puts a brave face on things but cries in secret in the bathroom, while her mother rarely speaks and hardly ever leaves the house. To escape this desolate world, Lou goes often to Gare d'Austerlitz to see the big emotions in the smiles and tears of arrival and departure. But there she also sees the homeless, meets a girl called No, only a few years older than herself, and decides to make homelessness the topic of her class presentation. Bit by bit, Lou and No become friends until, the project over, No disappears. Heartbroken, Lou asks her parents the unaskable question and her parents say: Yes, No can come to live with them. So Lou goes down into the underworld of Paris's street people to bring her friend up to the light of a home and family life, she thinks.
What I would say:
I've seen a lot about this book on all kinds of blogs since it was published and I saw comments on plot, characters, style, cultural references...the list goes on. But nowhere did I see anything about how the novel deals with its key subject matter: homelessness. I'll admit that part of the reason I loved this book so much was that it tackles the issue with sensitivity and understanding and I respect de Vigan so much for this.
I've struggled for some time since I finished this book on Friday about how to formulate this review because it is, after all, 'only' a novel. But it felt like a lot more than that to me. It forces you to look at how you respond to this emotive social issue but avoids being sanctimonious by a well judged ending. I wouldn't have loved this book half as much if it had been all sunshine and light at the end and I think it would have been much less powerful.
Lou is an incredible choice for the novel's narrator. At 13, she sees everything with moving simplicity. No is homeless. She has a home with a spare room. If No had a home, things would be better for her. The solution is simple to her - No lives in the spare room. I loved everything about her: her awkwardness; her compassion; her fragility and her unique kind of genius. What isn't said by her is often painfully obvious to an adult reader by her observations and I adored her for her naivety. Most of all, though, I loved how she kept fighting and trying to understand No. I always find it upsetting when I hear people say, "Oh, it's their own fault" or "They could always just get a job.." etc about homeless people and it was touchingly refreshing that this book bypassed that in Lou, who is almost baffled by how No came to be where she is:
Although this is mostly about No and Lou, their relationships with Lou's parents and Lucas lend brilliant support and Lou's glimpses of others' interactions are often revelations for the reader, if not always for Lou.
"At what point is it too late? From what moment? The first time I met her? Six months ago, two years ago, five years? Can you get out of a fix like that? How do you find yourself at the age of eighteen out on the streets with nothing and no one?"
One more obvious point is that this is written by a French author and is set in Paris. I have read criticism of this book for making too many cultural references. I disagree. Paris is one of my favourite places to visit and every time I go I love it more so I would have been more than happy to lose myself in reminders of its streets - worry not, this isn't the case. Amazingly, the book manages to depict the atmosphere of the city without making it a key factor. Part of the point of the book for me was that it could be any city in any country.
My favourite quote sums up the book, Lou and the issues they address perfectly:
"We can send supersonic planes into and rockets into space, and identify a criminal from a hair or a tiny flake of skin, and grow a
tomato you can keep in the fridge for three weeks without it getting a wrinkle, and store millions of pieces of information on a tiny chip. Yet we're capable of letting people die in the street."
Overall: This is in one way a very easy read - the narration is that of a teenager and is written in that style. It is, however, difficult to read without feeling somewhat guilty about the comfortable chair you're reading it in or the steaming mug of coffee you're sipping or the biscuits you're chomping...and I couldn't recommend it enough for that very reason!
Wednesday, 6 October 2010
Monday, 4 October 2010
Also bought: Storm Glass by Maria V. Snyder; The Dead Girls' Dance (Morganville Book 2) by Rachel Caine
Won at The True Book Addict
Dandelions in the Garden and The Hidden Will of the Dragon by Charlie Courtland
These are a two-part historical fiction series about the 16th century Hungarian Countess, Elizabeth Bathory (aka 'The Blood Countess'), who may or may not be the most prolific female serial killer ever known. I'm trying desperately not to read about the real life figure before I read the book but its getting tough - I shall resist temptation by starting these as soon as possible!
And before I forget...
I bought an ebook copy of Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce because I've been wanting to buy one of her books for ages and this way, I've no excuses!
AND I bought The White Queen by Phillippa Gregory on Kobo books for £2.70 - it practically threw itself into my 'basket' and I couldn't help it!! I've read a mixture of books by Gregory and they haven't always been favourites but, what can I say? I have no self control...
So, what have you all snatched up this week?!